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The Void-of-Course Moon: From Linear Time to

Lunar Time
Saturday, 21 October 2006 19:39 J Lee Lehman

2003 J. Lee Lehman

The void-of-course Moon has been listed as a debility (weakened) since Arabic times.
However, listing it as debilitated is one thing: coming up with a cogent meaning is
another. What did the ancients mean by believing it weakened? What continuity is
there with modern astrology thinking? And, how can we use these ideas in
application? These are the issues this article will attempt to address. First, let's define
our terms. The Moon is void-of-course when it makes no applying ptolemaic aspects
(conjunction, sextile, square, trine, opposition) until the end of the sign in which it is
posited. Because this definition is dependent on the positions of the other planets,
there is no fixed degree at which the Moon goes void in any particular sign. This
means that in any sign, the Moon spends a variable length of time void.

We shall explore the meaning of the term void-of-course, but lets begin with the
definition from deVores Encyclopedia:

Void-of-Course. Said of a planet that forms no complete aspect before leaving the
Sign in which it is posited at birth. When the Moon is so placed it denies fruition to
much of the good otherwise promised in the Figure. In horary astrology a planet so
placed is said to indicate a person devoid of objective or purpose, hence one who
abandons him self to aimless endeavor.

There are two things to note about this definition:

(1) The concept of void applies to all planets, not just the Moon; and

(2) While horary is mentioned, there is clearly a natal interpretation as well.

How the Ancients Defined Void-of Course

In the Liber Hermetis, a work attributed to Hermes Trismegistes, the author defined
the nature of the void period according to the last aspect of the Moon. For example,
separation from Saturn causes losses through parents. Separation from Venus
produces lewd men if waxing, and full of vice, if waning. This use of examining the
last aspect of the Moon before going void is a technique that still applies, except that
it has been extended to include the use of the outer planets as well.

Guido Bonatti, one of the great astrologers of the Middle Ages, took much of the
Arabic learning on astrology, and codified it. A supreme influence to later generations
even centuries later, William Lilly and his student Henry Coley extracted a number of
aphorisms from Bonatti's works, and published them in translation. Here, we see
Aphorisms 19, 62 and 64:

19. The Nineteenth Consideration is, To behold the Moon if she be "void of course"
for then it signifies an impediment to the thing in question: it will not come to a good
end, nor be accomplished; but the Querent shall be forced to desist with shame and

62. [The Moon Void of Course] ...signifies that the thing enquired after shall scarce
ever come to a good end, or not without much labor, sorrow, and trouble, unless the
Lord of the Ascendant or significator of the thing, shall be in very good condition, and
then it may be hindered, but not wholly frustrated; yet 'tis a good time then for
drinking, bathing, feasting, etc., and to use ointments for taking away of hair,
especially if she be in Scorpio.

64. The 64th is to consider, Whether the Moon be in Cancer, Taurus, Sagittarius, or
Pisces; for it signifies good in the business, although she be joined to the Infortunes
and not to the Fortunes; nor does she, being void of course, prejudice so much in
those places as elsewhere, provided she be not Combust, for then they will advantage
her little or nothing.

These three aphorisms seem to be most appropriate for horary or electional
application. Aphorism 64 gives a rule that was still in use by Lilly in the seventeenth
century: minimizing the void effect for the two signs of the Moon (her rulership and
exaltation), and the two Jupiter-ruled signs.

Lilly shows several things in practice, as opposed to theory:

* He didnt treat the Moon as void if it was within orb of an aspect in the next sign.
* This was doubly true if the Moon was in one of the four good signs.
* Even if the Moon were void in one of the other eight signs, and not applying to
an out-of-sign aspect, the Moon void by itself was not sufficient argument to give an
instant no to the outcome.

In sum, Lillys treatment of the Moon void-of-course makes it look like a relatively
minor debility, not a destructive debility which can hamper the effectiveness of the
Moon. The obvious point is that a void-of-course Moon cannot be interpreted by its
aspects: and this may explain why some astrology systems are so out to sea about how
to interpret it, especially those systems which are much more dependant on aspects to
accomplish the delineation.

Bonattis definition in Liber Astronomiae III suggests that the Moon is void until it
comes into aspect with another planet, not merely when it goes into a new sign. This
is the theory that has been picked up upon more recently by Sue Ward and Maurice
McCann. This idea may actually reflect upon a particular issue in electional, namely
the importance of the next aspect of the Moon. On a day in which the Moon is not in
orb of a next aspect, the effect from an electional standpoint may be very analogous to
the sense of a void-of-course Moon.

Classically, when the Moon is void-of-course, it must be interpreted even more
strongly through its sign, and especially its dispositor (planet in rulership of another
planet). If these do not provide a problem, then the condition of the Moon void-of-
course is not grave.

The Modern Void-of-Course Moon

If Lillys interpretation that the void Moon isnt that serious, how did it get its current
reputation? Here we probably have the clearest scope by examining the history of
horary or electional astrology, as the concept of void seems most evident in these
branches. Marc Edmund Jones had this to say about the void Moon condition:

One basic rule of exceptional importance in horary astrology is that no planet can
ever move out of one sign, into another, to make an aspect of significance in reference
to the given question or matter for which the chart is erected. This rule gives rise to
the next, or the third, of the preliminary considerations before judgment. The moon,
because of its swiftness of motion, and its consequent significance in indicating the
superficial focus of a given issue, must make some major aspect to at least one of the
other planets before it leaves the sign in which it lies at the moment of issue.
Otherwise, the chart is not valid because the moon is void of course. There is then a
definite lack of pertinent dynamic in the situation, and judgment will be unsound
unless the static nature of the circumstances have a special meaning in the given

Jones applied the traditional name of considerations before judgment to the list of
conditions that needed to be at least itemized before proceeding with the horary
judgment. But then he says that the horary is not valid. What is this? Lilly never said
that the question isnt valid. Notice that Jones also seems to preclude aspects in orb,
but out-of-sign. Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson referred to that list as cautions, but didnt
deviate greatly from typical classical style when she said:

First note whether the Moon makes any aspect good or bad to Fortuna (Jupiter); if
so, she is only zodiacally void of course (not aspecting a planet). Then note whether
the question has to do with a project, or with a querent who is sick, worried or
frightened. In either case, the keyword for you to remember to use is NOTHING.

If completely void of course, a project or anything begun will be abandoned or
reversed so that NOTHING is to come of it. If completely void of course, a sick or
worried person is needlessly upset and NOTHING will come of his fears or his
symptoms, and he will be cured.

If in any aspect to Fortuna the Moon is only zodiacally void of course. If the aspect
is a parallel, conjunction, sextile or trine NOTHING BUT SUCCESS will be

Goldstein-Jacobson has simplified the practical definition by ignoring the four signs
that were exceptions, but the aspect to Fortuna makes perfect sense in a classical
context, even though I havent seen it spelled out using this rule in a classical source.

The interpretation of Barbara Watters was definitely more grim. She designated it as
the first stricture against judgment, defining the void-of-course Moon in the usual
way. But there is no classical evidence for this urban legend whatsoever. Goldstein-
Jacobsons use of the word cautions for essentially the same list of conditions much
more accurately expresses the traditional viewpoint. At any rate, after defining void,
Watters gives this rationale (page 14):

The reason for this stricture is that, in horary astrology, the Moon rules function.
When it makes no aspect to another planet until after it leaves the sign it is in, nothing
functions in the situation that gave rise to the question. Therefore until circumstances
change, which they will do when the Moon moves into the next sign, the situation is
not viable. It has no future as things stand. This may be because the question was
unnecessary or of no real concern to the querent. It may be because vital facts
pertaining to the problem are unknown to him. Most commonly it means that in the
very near future something unforeseen will happen which will render the whole
matter of the question null and void.

For instance, suppose the querent asks if he will get a certain job. A void-of-course
Moon in the chart often means that it makes no difference whether or not he gets it
because in the near future, perhaps even in a day or so, he wont want it or cant
accept it. He may be offered a better job, he may suddenly have to move,
circumstances surrounding the job that he asked about may change so radically that it
becomes undesirable. But whatever the reason, dont try to find it in a void-of-course
Moon chart. You cant. The chart is inscrutable because the question was asked about
a dead-in issue.

This description is very stark. Historically, this level of negativity would have been
restricted to a Moon in debility, afflicted by malefics, eclipsed, etc.: in other words,
one or more of the eleven impeditions mentioned by ibn Ezra or earlier authors.

From Watters description, it was not a far step to the Void-of-Course Moon
described by the late Al Morrison. Al published a void-of-course Moon ephemeris for
many years, and publicized the theory that U.S. presidential candidates who are
nominated under a void-of-course Moon lose. Voids are shown in the ACS
Ephemeris, and other such reference guides, not to mention typical astrological
calendars. Voids, like Mercury retrograde, the two bugaboos of modern astrology,
both have the advantage of being easy to define and track, thereby making available
these techniques even to non-astrologers, given a little bit of training in reading the

From this mushrooming of interest has evolved the idea that a void-of-course Moon is
not only anathema in horary, but it must be avoided like the plague in event
interpretation and electional. Here, for example, is the opinion of Bruce Scofield, a
noted modern electional astrologer (http://stariq.com/Main/Articles/P0002724.HTM):

Many astrological calendars and datebooks give the exact times of these periods,
which occur every few days. As its name implies, the void-of-course Moon period
marks a time of drift. It's a time when time itself seems to bend and turn, and not head
straight to the next milepost. While the Moon moves through space, disconnected
from the other planets, life on Earth likewise moves along with a weak sense of
direction. And like Mercury retrograde, this period definitely works. Anyone planning
to commence an important event, like opening a business or starting off on a trip,
should make sure they know when the Moon is void-of-course.

When the Moon is void-of-course don't expect to meet all your goals. Don't expect to
settle disputes in meetings or make real progress with any new business. Don't do
something really important for the first time, and don't try to force things along a
preconceived path. But also, don't get paranoid about it. There are plenty of ways to
use, and even enjoy, the qualities of the void-of-course Moon. It's a great time for
getting on with unfinished business, for cleaning up that which is left over, and for
simply letting things happen..

What is especially good about Bruces comment is that he spells out the modern take
on the void-of-course, but then tells you to not get too paranoid! He then even gives
some ideas about constructive things to do under a void.

Turning back to natal, Karen Hamaker-Zondag discusses a related concept and its
psychological components: unaspected planets. Not all void-of-course Moons qualify
as unaspected, because they may still be in orb of a separating aspect. Karen also cuts
off aspects absolutely at sign boundaries, so a later void Moon, which has separated
from any aspects by orb, will still be unaspected even if it is applying to an out-of-
sign aspect:

The Moon represents the self-protective attitude we adopt whenever we feel
threatened or insecure. When unaspected, either we may fall prey to increasing
uncertainty, or may isolate ourselves by, metaphorically speaking, going to live on
our own little desert island. With no aspects to restrain it, the Moon will tend to make
the native exceptionally caring, cherishing, motherly and protective. The imagination
is often well developed too. An aspectless Moon offers few handholds and little
stability: by nature, the Moon has such an uncertain quality that when it is allied with
a (sometimes extreme) all-or-nothing attitude, there is no telling what the native will
do from one minute to the next.

Women with an unaspected Moon often have difficulty in experiencing their
femininity. Frequently (and this is true of both sexes), the bond with the mother is not
a happy one, and they themselves may not be really maternal. In a man, there can be
incomprehension of what to expect from a partner and of how to treat her, and he can
flit from one type of woman to another.

What is especially interesting about Karens definition above is that Karen is both a
Jungian and a horary astrologer, in which her treatment of void follows Ivy with two
major classical additions:

1. She recognizes the possibility of an out-of-sign aspect weakening the void
2. She listed the four exceptional signs, listing Lilly as her source.

The bulk of the information on void-of-course Moons remains in the realm of a kind
of semi-electional, semi-mundane influence, namely the issue of what is appropriate
to do during the void-of-course Moon period. We see this approach in Bruces
comments above, and we see it in this definition from www.stariq.com:

According to traditional astrology, activities begun during this time are unlikely to
produce tangible results. A void-of-course Moon in a horary chart renders it
unreadable for some practitioners. However, modern astrologers interpret this period a
s a psychological "free zone" in which therapy and intuitive work are favored.
This free zone idea has become quite popular as an organizing principle for the
constructive use of the void-of-course Moon. For example, the Swiss psychological
astrologer Verena Bachmann likes to use void periods for what she calls open-ended
or non-goal oriented counseling sessions (personal communication). Jenni Stone, in
an article in The Mountain Astrologer, lists twelve types of things to do under a void
period, some overlapping with Bruces list. Other activities that made it onto Stones
list are: editing and correcting, relaxation, planning, socializing, routine travel if you
are strictly a passenger, doing something youve never done (but probably not
something dangerous, and not something that is goal-oriented), and spiritual practice.

This is all well and good, but was Al Morrison right in warning us about starting
important events (like presidential nominations) under a void-of-course Moon? The
answer is: It depends.

One of the things that we need to distinguish is between reoccurring or routine events,
and special events. For example, every year, the National Football League sponsors
the Superbowl game between the National Football Conference champion and the
American Football Conference champion. There is great hoopla and much betting
associated with this event, and yet it can be considered reoccurring or routine in that it
takes place every year in late January (or rarely early February) in a sunbelt city, with
the location generally announced at least a year in advance. Also, being a playoff
game, it must have a victor, as the game will be continued if there is a tie at the end of
regulation play. So we could say that the routine outcome is that a winner will
emerge. There have been three Superbowls played when the Moon was void at the
start of the game: numbers VII, IX and XIX. (There have been thirty-seven played as
of January 2003.) As I have been involved with using a quantitative model to predict
the outcome of sporting events, I can report that those three games didnt seem to act
in any way differently to the non-void games, and that my predictive percentage is the
same for void vs. non-void games, albeit three being a very small sample!

Another example of reoccurring or routine events is each years baseball playoffs. In
the period from 1997 to 2003, thirty-nine playoff games were played with the Moon
void-of-course. I was especially interested to see if the winner during a void game
was jinxed against winning that playoff. Wrong! Thirty-one times out of thirty-nine (a
startling 79 percent!) the victor during the void went on to win the play-off in
question: and four of those thirty-nine games were ones in which the victory that
occurred clinched the series. In this case, it would even seem worth betting on a team
once it wins a void game!

It would even seem that incorporations might count as reoccurring or routine. In a
data set of 553 successful corporations (the kind you would see prominently in the
business pages), sixty-seven had void of course Moons (12 percent of the total). Of
these void corporations, twenty-eight were in the classically better void signs (41
percent vs. 33 percent expected). So it really does look better to be void in the Moons
or Jupiters signs.

Whats Going on Here?

I think that the real essence of the meaning of void periods is found by going back to a
fundamental structure underlying Hellenistic astrology: the idea of sect. The sect of a
chart means whether the chart is cast for day or night, and not only is there the sect of
the chart, but both planets and signs have sect as well. The masculine signs are
diurnal; the feminine signs are nocturnal. The Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn are diurnal; the
Moon, Venus and Mars are nocturnal. But perhaps most important here is the concept
of sect light, for the Sun rules all day charts, and the Moon rules all night charts as the
sect light.

In the Hellenistic system more than any since, a chart was fundamentally different by
day or by night. Putting this idea into modern parlance, a solar chart is one governed
by reason and rationality, as well as linear time; a lunar chart is governed by intuition
and cyclic time. Our society wildly favors the linear model of time, where we march
knowingly from Point A to Point B to Point C. (The fact that it almost never works
that way is not the point!) Whenever the Moon is dominant, then cyclic time takes
over as the major metaphor. A void period is a lunar time, and hence, the worriment
about getting goals accomplished then. Its not that accomplishing goals is
impossible during lunar time, it just requires more creativity and intuition to get there!

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